The difference between managing and leadership

by Laura Card

NASHVILLE—In most bus and motorcoach companies, leadership and managerial roles exist with equal importance. According to Jim McCann, a consultant at Spader Business Management, one key to long-term organizational success is knowing the difference between the two roles—and when to use each one.

“Management consists of controlling a group or a set of entities to accomplish a goal,” said McCann. “We’re trying to make something happen when we’re managing. We’re managing a process, making sure that everyone’s doing what they’re supposed to be doing, and we’re getting the results that we want.”

That contrasts with leadership, which is more abstract than practical. “Leadership refers to an individual’s ability to influence, to motivate, to do it through example as opposed to getting down into the weeds and actually working with people and creating the process,” McCann said. “Leaders enable others to contribute toward organizational success.”

While both roles have a place in an organization’s structure, knowing when to switch between leading and managing is a skill that may take time to develop.

“In our business life, sometimes we find ourselves in unfavorable situations, and sometimes we find ourselves in favorable situations,” said McCann. “In favorable situations, leadership is what’s required. A pat on the back, saying, ‘You’re doing a great job, what can I do to help you?’ And sometimes in an unfavorable situation, it simply says, ‘We’re not making our objective, let’s get down to why, and let’s work through it.’”

McCann proposes a three-step evaluation to determine if leadership and management are aligned within a company. A leadership and management team in the motorcoach industry should provide overall direction for the company, manage the company’s business operations to ensure achievement of expected business results and effectively manage and develop department leaders and make sure they are effective with all other employees.

“Influence and inspiration separate leaders from managers, not power and control,” McCann clarified. “Again, there is not a right or wrong; management isn’t bad, it’s absolutely necessary in our organizations. And so is leadership.”


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